Q

How to align laptop flash drive partitions in Windows

Marc Staimer outlines how to ensure that your laptop flash drive partitions are aligned properly in this Expert Answer.

I've read that misaligned laptop flash drive partitions can dramatically affect SSD performance. How can you determine if your laptop SSD partitions are correctly aligned and fix them if they are not?

There are differences between HDDs and SSDs in how they're partitioned. An HDD's first partition starts after 63 empty blocks. The SSD requires 64 data blocks for optimal performance. If the SSD was formatted by something other than the OS formatter, it is possible that it is aligned incorrectly. The consequence is a much slower SSD, and that's not what you paid for. The fix is pretty straightforward. Since most laptops in business utilize Windows, here are the steps to take to correct the problem:

  1. Go to the Start menu.
  2. Select Run
  3. Type "msinfo32."
  4. Go to Components > Storage > Disks.
  5. Locate "SSD" on the list.
  6. Find "Partition Starting Offset."
  7. Divide the number by 4,096.
  8. If result is a whole number, the partition is aligned.
  9. If result is a fraction, the partition is not aligned correctly.
  10. Use "GParted Live CD" which can be found at http://gparted.sourceforge.net/. GParted is a free web-based utility that allows users to manage their disk partitions. It claims to allow users the ability to resize, copy and move partitions without data loss, enabling users to grow or shrink your C: drive, create space for new operating systems and attempt data rescue from lost partitions.
  11. Start GParted and locate "SSD" in the upper-right drop-down menu.
  12. Select "SSD."
  13. Click on first partition in the menu.
  14. Select the Resize/Move button in the toolbar.
  15. Change "Free Space Preceding" to 2 MB.
  16. Uncheck "Round to Cylinders."
  17. Click "Resize/Move."
  18. Apply.
  19. Change Free Space Preceding to 1 MB.
  20. Uncheck "Round to Cylinders."
  21. Click "Resize/Move."
  22. Apply.

Repeat for each SSD partition.

This was first published in May 2013

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